Micachu; photo by Steve Legere
|Birth name||Mica Levi|
|Genres||Experimental pop, avant-pop, lo-fi, indie, noise pop, grindie, film score|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, electronics, found objects|
|Labels||Rough Trade, Milan, Accidental|
|Associated acts||Brother May, Dean Blunt, DELS, Ghostpoet, Kwes, Matthew Herbert, London Contemporary Orchestra, Oliver Coates, Tirzah|
|Good Sad Happy Bad|
|Also known as||Micachu & The Shapes (2008-present)|
Mica Levi (born February 1987), known by her stage name Micachu, is an English singer, songwriter, composer, and producer. She is classically trained and since 2008 has released experimental pop music with her band Good Sad Happy Bad (formerly known as Micachu and The Shapes). In 2014, Levi branched out into film composing, creating the score for the Jonathan Glazer film Under the Skin. Her work was widely praised and Levi received a European Film Award for Best Composer and a BAFTA Award for Best Film Music nomination. Her score for Pablo Larraín's Jackie received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score.
Levi performed as a DJ in London, and released a mixtape titled Filthy Friends, which was posted on her official Myspace page. For Filthy Friends she enlisted the help of friends and musicians of various backgrounds including MCs Baker Trouble, Brother May, Man Like Me & Ghostpoet, singer-songwriter Jack Peñate, jazz band Troyka, London pop-band Golden Silvers as well as producers Kwes and Toddla T. Following its release, Filthy Friends became sought after on the London club scene.
Levi was an Artist-in-Residence at the Southbank Centre in London in 2010.
Levi co-wrote and produced Tirzah's I'm Not Dancing EP, which was released by Greco-Roman Records in August 2013, to critical acclaim.
Levi's first major film score was for Jonathan Glazer's 2014 film Under the Skin. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Michel Faber and stars Scarlett Johansson. Produced at age 26 and created in collaboration with Glazer, Levi's film score themes are so tightly woven into the film that they give a symbiotic quality, in which the aural feels inseparable from the visual. The score was widely acclaimed for pushing the boundaries of music and sound design and Levi was nominated for multiple awards. She won Best Composer at the 2014 European Film Awards, and tied with Jonny Greenwood for Best Music/Score at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Critics Awards. She was also nominated for the 2015 BAFTA Award for Best Film Music.
In 2016, Levi completed her second major film score, for Pablo Larrain's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis biopic Jackie. Larrain had been a juror at the 2013 Venice Film Festival, and thought that Under the Skin deserved a film score prize. Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, also on the jury, was enthralled by Mica Levi’s bold score for the film, and he and Larrain spoke passionately of her accomplishment, which led to the collaboration on Jackie. Levi has been nominated for Best Original Score at the 2017 Academy Awards for her work on Jackie, making her the third woman to be nominated as a composer in the scoring category.
Micachu and the Shapes
Levi formed a band called Micachu and The Shapes, which includes Raisa Khan on keyboards and Marc Pell on drums. They signed to Accidental Records. With the Shapes, Levi's focus has been on experimental pop music. Most of this music prominently features an acoustic half-guitar with various non-standard tunings, extensive distortion, and use of noise and found-object elements, as well as occasionally unusual time signatures. Despite these experimental leanings, the artist categorizes her output with The Shapes as pop music.
Their debut album, Jewellery, produced with influential electronic musician Matthew Herbert, was recorded around Mica's composition studies at Guildhall School. Advance copies of the record reached the press in early 2009, and generated positive feedback. In the wake of this growing buzz, Micachu and the Shapes were signed to Rough Trade, who released Jewellery on 9 March 2009. Drowned In Sound consequently hailed the record as "thrillingly improbable pop made by a grade-A maverick."
Micachu and the Shapes toured widely throughout the UK in 2008, including performances at Bestival and V Festival. The band played in the US at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City and SXSW in Austin, Texas. They also performed on the Main Stage of the Siren Music Festival at Coney Island in Brooklyn in July 2009. Touring continued throughout Europe and North America in the summer and fall of 2009. In Spring of 2010, Micachu and the Shapes supported Spoon on tour throughout North America.
The band performed with the London Sinfonietta at Kings Place, London in May 2010 and in March 2011 released the live recording as the album "Chopped and Screwed". Unlike their previous effort, the recording largely avoids pop sensibilities in favor of a slower, hip-hop indebted style and repetitive, discordant string arrangements. The band were chosen by Animal Collective to perform at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival that they curated in May 2011 in Minehead, England.
The follow-up to their debut, Never, was released on 23 July 2012.
|Year||Album details||Peak positions|
|2009||Jewellery (with The Shapes)||196|
|2012||Never (with The Shapes)
|2014||Under The Skin (OST)
|2015||Good Sad Happy Bad (with The Shapes)
|2016||Remain Calm (with Oliver Coates)
|Year||Album details||Peak positions|
|2011||Chopped and Screwed (with The Shapes and the London Sinfonietta)
|2010||Kwesachu Mixtape Vol.1 with Kwes.
|2011||Meat Batch with Kwake Bass
|Chopped & Screwed Mixtape with Brother May
|2012||Kwesachu Mixtape Vol.2 with Kwes.
|2014||Feeling Romantic Feeling Tropical Feeling Ill
Singles / EPs
- "Lone Ranger" (2008)
- "Golden Phone" (2008)
- "Lips" (2009)
- "Turn Me Well" (2009)
- "I'm Not Dancing" (2013) (with Tirzah)
- "No Romance" (2014) (with Tirzah)
- "Thinking of You" (2015) (with Nozinja, Tirzah and Mumdance)
- "Make It Up" (2015) (with Tirzah)
- "Taz and May Vids" (2016) (with Tirzah and Brother May)
- "May and Meeks" (2016) (with Brother May)
- "Looking Up at the Sun / Mash One" (2016) (with Good Sad Happy Bad)
- "Clothes Wear Me" (2016) (with KEVIN)
Awards and recognition
Pending - Academy Award for Best Original Score for Jackie (2016)
- "Micachu | Biography, Albums, & Streaming Radio | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-07-06.
- "Oscars 2017: Mica Levi's Jackie Nominated for Best Original Score | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
- Thompson, Ben (2015-08-02). "Micachu and the Shapes review – renaissance woman goes back to basics". the Guardian. Retrieved 2016-07-06.
- "Micachu teams up with Brother May for 'May And Meeks' EP". DIY. Retrieved 2016-07-06.
- "Rapper Ghostpoet talks about his struggle for success". 2015-02-21. Retrieved 2016-07-06.
- Burrows, Tim. Micachu and the Shapes: The Shape of Things To Come, "The Telegraph, 4 March 2009"
- "Resident Orchestras & Artists in Residence". Southbank Centre. Retrieved 2016-09-12.
- "Tirzah: "I'm Not Dancing" | Tracks". Pitchfork. 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2014-07-23.
- Levi, Mica (2014-03-15). "How Mica Levi got Under The Skin of her first film soundtrack". the Guardian. Retrieved 2016-07-06.
- "Mica Levi: Under the Skin OST Album Review | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
- Tapley, Kristopher (2016-10-19). "'Arrival,' 'Jackie' Composers Push Boundaries of Music and Sound Design". Variety. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
- NME.COM. "Mica Levi on scoring 'Under the Skin': 'I dreamt the world came out of Scarlett Johansson's face' | NME.COM". NME.COM. Retrieved 2016-07-06.
- "LAFCA". LAFCA. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- "Mica Levi earns BAFTA nomination for Under The Skin score". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. Retrieved 2016-07-06.
- "Mica Levi scores Jackie Kennedy biopic starring Natalie Portman". August 16, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
- Records, Rough Trade. "Rough Trade Records". Rough Trade Records. Retrieved 2016-07-07.
- Ubaghs, Charles (2009-03-17). "Album Review: Micachu - Jewellery / Releases / Releases // Drowned In Sound". Drownedinsound.com. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Hogan, Marc. "What's the Matter with Sweden?" in Pitchfork.com 29 March 2010
- "Micachu | Listen and Stream Free Music, Albums, New Releases, Photos, Videos". Myspace.com. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- "Micachu and the Shapes and London Sinfonietta present: CHOPPED & SCREWED", Rough Trade Records.
- "ATP curated by Animal Collective - All Tomorrow's Parties". Atpfestival.com. Retrieved 2014-07-23.
- "Good Sad Happy Bad critics reviews". Mertacritic.com. September 10, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
- "Pop and Jazz Listings and Albums for the Fall Season". New York Times, SEPT. 7, 2015
- "News | DOWNLOAD: Kwesachu Vol. 2". The Quietus. 2012-04-30. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Jayson Greene (2014-04-17). "Mica Levi: Under the Skin OST Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- "European Film Academy : THE 27TH EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS: WINNERS". Europeanfilmacademy.org. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- "Original Music Nominees in 2015". Bafta.org. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- "L.A. Film Critics Awards: Jonny Greenwood & Mica Levi Tie in Best Music Score Category". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- Micachu website
- Accidental Records profile
- BBC newsbeat: Is Micachu the next big thing?
- Michachu page at Rough Trade Records
- Interview - December 2009 -(Portuguese web-zine)
- Micachu vs Kwake Bass "Meat Batch Mix" on Andrew Meza's BTS Radio
- Interview with Mica Levi on Headphone Commute, December 2014
- Micachu at the Internet Movie Database